Harper Government Invests in Universities to Create Value-added Jobs through Innovation

Photo of MP Bev Shipley, at Armo-Tool Ltd. in London Ontario, announces funding to the Yves Landry Foundation under FedDev Ontario's Prosperity Initiative.

The Honourable Gary Goodyear, Minister of State (Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario), celebrates a new multi-million dollar collaborative research and innovation platform in southern Ontario, along with MP Patrick Brown; the Honourable Brad Duguid, Ontario’s Minister of Economic Development and Innovation; Mr. John Lutz, President, IBM Canada; Professor David Naylor, President, University of Toronto; Dr. Amit Chakma, President and vice-chancellor, Western University; and Professor Paul Young, University of Toronto. Source: Tim Fraser Photography

For immediate release
April 10, 2012

Toronto, Ontario — Seven universities in southern Ontario will soon be using high performance and cloud computing infrastructure for research to help solve the world’s most complex problems, including resource management, urban infrastructure, and neurological disorders, thanks to a Government of Canada investment of up to $20 million. The announcement was made today by the Honourable Gary Goodyear, Minister of State for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario), accompanied by Patrick Brown, Member of Parliament for Barrie.

“Our Government has been building on the strengths found in our region to support the advancement of science and technology and help create value-added jobs,” said Minister Goodyear. “We are proud to invest in supercomputing infrastructure that will position southern Ontario at the forefront of research and development in areas that are not only critically important to our communities, but also show great commercial promise.”

“Our government is bringing key players together to give researchers and businesses in southern Ontario a competitive advantage in the world’s rapidly changing economy,” said MP Brown.

Through its Prosperity Initiative, FedDev Ontario is making an investment of up to $20 million to support a new collaborative research and innovation platform in southern Ontario, which brings together a consortium of seven universities and a lead industry partner, IBM.

The consortium will use new state-of-the art high performance and cloud computing systems to process data in research areas with significant commercialization opportunities, including infrastructure, resource management, and neuroscience. These opportunities will be explored through partnerships with local businesses that will be looking to develop new systems for managing traffic, food distribution, electricity, and more, as well as new tools that can be used to diagnose and treat neurological disorders. To remain on the leading edge of research, consortium members will also turn their attention to the development of next generation hardware and software for supercomputers.

"Western played a leading role in establishing SHARCNET, Canada's largest high-performance computing consortium, and we are excited to take the next step by using cloud computing to manage the staggering volume of digital data society creates on a daily basis," said Western president, Amit Chakma. "From neuroscience to our environment and industrial applications, supercomputing holds tremendous promise for helping us make complex research decisions more quickly, while mining data for better answers."

“Canada needs more knowledge-based industries to diversify our national economic portfolio beyond the current over-weighting of commodities and natural resources and help eliminate our identified innovation gap,” said Dr. David Naylor, president, University of Toronto. “The IBM Canada Research and Development Centre takes direct aim at these issues by creating modern research networks that bring advanced computing capacity to bear on important issues such as: water monitoring, management and distribution; energy monitoring and management; urban planning and traffic management for intelligent cities; and the cross-walk of brain science with artificial intelligence.”

The platform is expected to help increase Canadian competitiveness in the global economy by bringing new specialized skills in data management and analysis, software engineering and production to southern Ontario. As a result, communities across the region and country stand to benefit from new economic opportunities and diversification.

For more information on FedDev Ontario’s Prosperity Initiative and this project, please see the backgrounder.

The investment announced today supports the Government of Canada’s science, technology, and innovation agenda, which is focused on increasing the country’s productivity, creating jobs, economic grow the and long-term prosperity.

Created in 2009, FedDev Ontario supports the southern Ontario economy by building on the region’s strengths and creating opportunities for jobs and economic growth. The Agency has launched a number of initiatives to create a Southern Ontario Advantage and place the region in a strong position to compete in the global economy. These initiatives are designed to encourage partnerships and support projects that help the region’s businesses and communities become more competitive, innovative and diversified. To learn more, please visit www.feddevontario.gc.ca or call 1-866-593-5505.

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For more information, contact:

Michele-Jamali Paquette
Director of Communications
Office of the Honourable Gary Goodyear
613-947-2956

Media Relations
FedDev Ontario
519-571-6879


Backgrounder

FedDev Ontario is providing a non-repayable contribution of up to $20 million to the University of Toronto to form a collaborative research and innovation platform in southern Ontario, which is bringing together a consortium of seven universities with a lead industry partner, IBM Canada, which was chosen through a public tendering process. Both the University of Toronto and Western University are lead members of the consortium, and are joined by the University of Waterloo, the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, the University of Ottawa, McMaster University and Queen’s University. This consortium will also foster partnerships with small- and medium-sized enterprises (SME) that can benefit from commercially promising research.

Thanks to this investment, the consortium will benefit from the installation of two IBM Blue Gene/Q supercomputers, designed specifically to help solve large-scale problems associated with scientific research, at the University of Toronto’s SciNet Datacentre and cloud and agile computing infrastructure and software at Western University. In time, the consortium will also have access to the IBM Data Centre, which is under construction in Barrie, Ontario and is scheduled to open in the fall of 2012.

The virtual structure of the platform will allow top Canadian scientists, including university researchers, students and post-doctoral fellows, to work side-by-side with IBM research staff. Local businesses will also benefit from the platform by bringing innovative ideas coming from the consortium to market.

The research will focus on complex issues that affect people around the world, including rapid urbanization and aging infrastructure in our cities; healthcare challenges, including neurological disorders; and resource management, including water and energy systems. This work will ultimately help accelerate the commercial adoption of Canadian-led projects in these areas around the world.

To support this advanced applied research, researchers will also be developing hardware and software in preparation for the technology transition to exascale computing (petascale, computing performance in excess of one petaflops, is currently the most advanced processing available). Finding ways to process data more quickly and efficiently, including at lower cost, will help push the frontiers of supercomputing forward, and position Canada as a leader in the digital economy.

This multi-million dollar research and development network is also benefitting from investments of up to $175 million by IBM Canada and up to $15 million by the Government of Ontario. The overall project will increase Canadian competitiveness in the global economy by bringing new specialized skills in engineering and technology production to southern Ontario. As a result, communities across the province stand to benefit from new economic opportunities and diversification.

Prosperity Initiative

FedDev Ontario’s Prosperity Initiative is designed to encourage businesses, not-for-profit organizations and post-secondary institutions in southern Ontario to undertake projects that will result in a more productive, diversified and competitive economy.

Funding is available for projects that:

  • enhance productivity by accelerating the adoption of new technologies, processes and skills that enhance the region’s businesses and sectors;
  • diversify the regional economy by increasing the number of new industries or opportunities with the potential to have long-term impacts on regional economic diversity; and
  • build a competitive advantage in the region by creating or expanding economic clusters and enhancing their global competitiveness.

Applications for funding are being accepted and assessed on an ongoing basis. For more information, please refer to the Program Guidelines available on the FedDev Ontario website at www.feddevontario.gc.ca.